Tongwynlais School – Letter to the Editor
To the Editor of the SOUTH WALES DAILY NEWS
In an article which appears in your issue of the 14th inst., entitled “The Denominational Defeat at Whitchurch,” remarks are made respecting the Tongwynlais School which are not accurate. With the view of giving you a clear idea of the facts of the case, I may be allowed to give you the history of the school since its inauguration in 1875. In May of that year, the managers of Whitchurch Schools, seeing the necessity of providing for the education of the children of their parish at Tongwynlais, hired the club-room of the Lewis’ Arms, in the parish of Eglwysilan.
There they opened a school under a mistress, who was certificated under Article 60 of the new Code, and who was to receive a salary of £30 per annum, in addition to half of the Government grant. By the Act she was entitled to service in charge of a school which had an annual average of not more than 60 scholars.
At the visit of Her Majesty’s Inspector in April 1876, the school was overcrowded.’ The mistress had 40 children under her charge more than she was entitled to. The grant was consequently forfeited. The extra children were from the parishes of Eglwysilan and Radyr.
The managers closed the school in September, 1876. No grant was claimed for the year ending the 31st March, 1877. From this you will see that the statement that “no grant was allowed during the two years specified above, the master holding no certificate.” is entirely without foundation. I may also mention that the magnificent salary mentioned in your issue, has slightly increased.
In February, 1877, the new church was opened, and the rooms, where services were formerly held were placed at the disposal of the managers. I was appointed to the mastership in March, and on the 3rd April a mixed school was opened. The attendance gradually increased, and at the last annual inspection there were 236 children on the books. About that time the affairs of the Works’ Company were in liquidation, and the official liquidators refused to pay the sum of £20 in lieu of poundage, which had been paid in former years.
A return made to the Education Department showed that of the 236 children on the registers, 159 resided in the parish of Eglwysilan, 19 in Radyr, 1 in Pentyrch, 18 in Whitchurch proper, and only 39 in that part of Tongwynlais included in the parish of Whitchurch, and within one mile of the school.
My Lords thereupon agreed to the reduction in the size of the school, and the appointment of a mistress, who is to commence duties after the harvest holidays. The conjecture, therefore, as to the reason of closing the school for a time, is as unjust as it is incorrect.
I am ALFRED ROBERTS.[In the Blue Book, giving the Returns of Income and Expenditure of Elementary Schools for the year ending 31st August, 1876, we found that the grant for Tongwynlais was stopped under Art. 17 d, and we were, therefore, justified in stating that the master was not certificated. If we put “master” by mistake, it was owing to the error of our informant, an old inhabitant of Tongwynlais. If the school had 100 scholars in April, 1876, why was it closed in September of that year ? Again, how came it, that with 236 scholars “on the books,” the loss of £20 annually was deemed sufficient excuse for closing the school a second time this year? Will Mr Roberts kindly give us the average attendance and grant received for last inspection, viz., 1878? Were not the school pence and grant sufficient to carry on the school without reducing its size and status ? Is it not strange that in the Appendices to Education Reports, Tongwynlais School has never even been named ? Wo still believe that it a fear of a deficit has been the guiding principle in all the changes made by the managers.